Eight names added to the list of political prisoners

2021 2021-12-28T13:58:47+0300 2021-12-28T16:25:43+0300 en https://spring96.org/files/images/sources/marsh_minsk_06.08.20202.jpg The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Joint statement by the Belarusian human rights community

December 27, 2021

In response to an increase in the number of cases of conviction and imprisonment of individuals under a number of defamatory articles of the Criminal Code, as well as for insulting state symbols of the Republic of Belarus, we, representatives of the Belarusian human rights community, reaffirming our repeated calls to decriminalize defamation and to refrain from imposing terms of imprisonment for insulting officials, the state, government agencies and symbols (as mentioned in the Joint statement y of Decemeber, 22, 2020), note the following.

At the moment we know about the following persons imprisoned for insulting the president, police officers, judges, as well as insulting state symbols:

  1. Ivan Khviashchuk, sentenced to 1 year of imprisonment under Art. 368 of the Criminal Code for insulting Aliaksandr Lukashenka;
  2. Maksim Mychko, sentenced to 1 year of imprisonment under Art. 370 of the Criminal Code for tearing off the state flag;
  3. Aliaksandr Bendz, sentenced to 1 year of imprisonment under Art. 370 of the Criminal Code for tearing off the state flag;
  4. Valiantsin Labachou, sentenced to 1 year of imprisonment under Art. 368 of the Criminal Code for insulting Aliaksandr Lukashenka;
  5. Aliaksandr Vasin, sentenced to 1 year and 6 months of restricted freedom in an open penitentiary under Art. 369 of the Criminal Code for insulting a police officer; sent to serve his sentence;
  6. Andrei Andreyeu, sentenced to 1 year and 6 months of restricted freedom in an open penitentiary under Art. 369 of the Criminal Code for insulting a police officer, sent to serve his sentence;
  7. Pavel Vinahradau, detained on charges under Art. 367 and Art. 130 of the Criminal Code for slandering Aliaksandr Lukashenka and inciting social hostility;
  8. Aliaksandr Tsymbalist, detained on charges under Art. 369 and Art. 130 of the Criminal Code for insulting a police officer and inciting social hostility (Zeltser case).

In this regard, we consider the persecution and imprisonment of the persons listed above as politically motivated in connection with the peaceful exercise of their views, and the convicts as political prisoners in accordance with paragraph 3.1 (a) of the Guidelines on the Definition of Political Prisoners.

We, therefore, call on the Belarusian authorities to:

  • immediately release political prisoners Ivan Khviashchuk, Maksim Mychko, Aliaksandr Bendz, Valiantsin Labachou, Aliaksandr Vasin, Andrei Andreyeu, Pavel Vinahradau and Aliaksandr Tsymbalist, and end criminal prosecution against them;
  • take measures aimed at decriminalizing defamation offenses and repealing articles of the Criminal Code that provide for liability for insulting the state and state symbols, namely Articles 188, 189, 367, 368, 369, 369-1, 370 and 391 of the Criminal Code, and stop all ongoing criminal cases under these articles;
  • release all political prisoners immediately and stop political repression.

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